VC 568 Writing About Singing

Instructor: Dr. Ian Howell
Time and Location: Tuesdays 12-2 JH367
Office Hours: By appointment



  1. Required Materials
  2. Course packet of articles and studies
  3. Access to a computer (Mac or PC) and the Internet
  4. Access to the NEC Voice and Sound Analysis Laboratory


Vocal Pedagogy Majors must take VC565, VC566, and VC567 first. No prerequisite for
students taking as an elective.


Not open to freshmen or sophomores; open to all other graduate and
undergraduate students.

Course Description

This seminar seeks to expose students to a variety of primary sources and research methods used in the voice science and vocal pedagogy literature. Topics covered may include surveys, perceptual studies, acoustical and electroglottographic data analysis, basic statistical analysis, and use of Microsoft Excel to visually summarize complex information. Each student will repeat and extend several published studies, present their own work for discussion and feedback, and develop a more concise and incisive voice as a writer. Each student will propose and complete a significant research project culminating in a final thesis and public lecture. Texts include a variety of articles from The Journal of Voice and The Journal of Singing. 2 Credits

As the PRIMARY OBJECTIVES of this course, students will:

  1. Come to understand current trends in voice research
  2. Locate various research topics and methodologies within their appropriate publications and research communities
  3. Utilize analysis methods (both statistical and with voice instrumentation) to gather evidence related to falsifiable questions
  4. Propose an independent research topic, gather data, and spend the bulk of the semester crafting an analysis
  5. Prepare and present a significant public lecture/presentation to share their research

Course Assignments

  1. Readings will be assigned some weeks, and students will be expected to come to class prepared to discuss them. Students will be responsible for giving short introductory presentations and leading discussions based on the readings (counts toward classroom participation).
  2. Most weeks, students will either write a short essay (blog post, public forum question to start a discussion, argumentative/opinion piece, , or edit an article in process. We will discuss these works in class.
  3. Depending on topics of interest and available technology, students may repeat and extend several published studies from the voice science or vocal pedagogy literature.
  4. Students will write a final paper (approximately 3,000 words) on a research area related to the material.
    4. Students will be required to prepare several revisions of this paper throughout the semester, and must present their work regularly for in-class discussion.
    5. Students will give a 20 minute final presentation to the general public on their research. This may or may not be in conjunction with, or thematically linked to, their final recital (MM vocal pedagogy majors only).

There is no final exam.


Classroom participation (includes online discussions about readings, and weekly writing or editing assignments) 25%
Published study repeating projects 15%
Final paper 30%
Final presentation 30%

Technical Requirements for all Written Work

All written assignments must be submitted as a WORD document. Please follow the NEC pedagogy style guide, and submit all material through your dropbox shared folder.

Due Dates

All written work must be submitted by 11:59 pm on the designated due date.
Please feel free to turn in any assignment ahead of time. I will allow you one rewrite
(based on my comments) for a higher grade. A half grade will be subtracted for each day
following the due date. You are required to have access to your school email, which
automatically time and date stamps your emails. Plan ahead to turn your materials in on
time. Communicate with me early if there is going to be an issue.

Academic Integrity

This class follows the academic integrity policy of this conservatory, and
plagiarism could lead to expulsion. All direct quotes, all paraphrases, and all borrowed
ideas must be cited. A reader a century from now should be able to reconstruct your
research process and find her way to all of your sources.

Class Attendance and Participation

You are expected to come to all classes on time, having completed all
assignments, ready to discuss the material. If you must miss class for an approved reason (meaning a medical emergency or performance), make sure to document it with the professor. Otherwise your participation grade will suffer. If you miss more than three classes for any reason, you should talk to me about your future in the course.

Have a question or concern? Talk with me early on.

Preliminary Course Calendar (Subject to Change)

Unit One: Introduction to voice and singing research


  1. Bibliography, footnote, and document formatting
  2. Primary sources for voice and singing research
  3. Types of research projects in the literature
  4. Creation of graphs in Excel

Unit Two: Discussions may be drawn from:


  1. Research ethics
  2. Electroglottography and laryngeal registration
  3. Acoustical measurements and resonance strategies
  4. Utility of biofeedback in the voice studio
  5. Use of big data: the limitations of comparative analyses of YouTube recordings
  6. Comparative pedagogy
  7. Surveys and singer self-evaluation

Unit Three: Proposals and individual research topics

The remainder of the semester will be spent on in-class discussions of the
students’ developing final papers and presentation materials. Special topics will include presentation techniques, use of technology in public speaking, efficiency in writing, and the cultivation of a personal voice as a teacher and author.

A Few Due Dates

January 23rd, 12 noon: An initial mind map of your subject area of interest. You must include three sources (also start a separate annotated bibliography), one of which must be a book, and one of which must be from the past 10 years. You will present this mind map to the class.

January 29th, 12 noon: You will present a DMA dissertation in class related to your subject area of interest. You will have 20 minutes and should use powerpoint.

February 6th 27th, 12 noon: Present an updated mind map with at least 10 sources and an annotated bibliography. The mind map should make connections between different sources, and highlight problems or gaps in the literature. Barring historical relevance, the majority of your sources must be no more than 15 years old. If you include research articles or dissertations, you must include the most recent works on the subject.

March 12th 26th (MONDAY), 11:59pm: Turn in a proposal for your final paper. 750  word max statement of purpose, 750 word max state of research/literature, and an annotated bibliography.

April 2 16th (MONDAY), 11:59pm: First draft of final paper due. 3,000 words excluding front and back material and footnotes. We will do weekly revisions with the final paper due the last day of classes.

Exam week (Date/time TBA): Public presentation of your research paper as a part of the NEC Vocal Pedagogy Honors Symposium.

Course Bibliography

Arneson, Christopher. Voice Repertoire from a Developmental Perspective. Deleware:
Inside View Press, 2015.
Coffin, Berton. Historical Vocal Pedagogy Classics. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1989.
Doscher, Barbara M. The Functional Unity of the Singing Voice. London: Scarecrow,
Feldenkrais, Moshé. Awareness Through Movement: Health Exercises for Personal
Growth. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.
Garcia II, Manuel. A Complete Treatise on the Art of Singing. The editions of 1847 and
1872 edited and translated by Donald V. Paschke. New York: Da Capo Press,
Garcia, Manuel. Exercises and Method for Singing. London: T. Boosey & Co., 1824.
Hines, Jerome. Great Singers on Great Singing. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1982.
McCoy, Scott. Your Voice: An Inside View. Delaware: Inside View Press, 2012.
McKinney, James C. The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults. Nashville: Genevox
Music Group, 1994.
Miller, Donald. Resonance in Singing. Princeton: Inside View Press, 2008.
Miller, Richard. On the Art of Singing. New York: Oxford University, 1996.
___________. The Structure of Singing: System and Art in Vocal Technique. New York:
Schirmer, 1986.
Reid, Cornelius L. Voice: Psyche and Soma. New York: J. Patelson Music, 1975.
Howell Proposed Vocal Pedagogy Courses, 17 January 2016
Smith, W. Stephen. The Naked Voice. Oxford: Oxford University, 2007.
Sundberg, Johan. The Science of the Singing Voice. DeKalb: Northern Illinois
University, 1987.
Titze, Ingo R. Principles of Voice Production. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall,
Titze, Ingo R., and Katherine Verdolini Abbott. Vocology: The Science and Practice of
Voice Habilitation. Salt Lake City, UT: National Center for Voice and Speech,
Vennard, William. Singing: The Mechanism and the Technique. New York: Carl Fischer,
Additional videos and media from The National Center for Voice and Speech and Inside
View Press